Anheuser-Busch Online TV Network Plans Eight Channels

Foray Into Content Creation Will Draw Funds From TV Ads

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Anheuser-Busch's move into content creation is yielding "Bud.TV," a 24-hour, internet-based TV network that will premiere next year.
Bud.TV will launch the day after the 2007 Super Bowl, featuring eight channels.
Bud.TV will launch the day after the 2007 Super Bowl, featuring eight channels.

Slated to launch the day after the 2007 Super Bowl, Bud.TV is planned as an eight-channel network boosted by relationships with major Hollywood figures including Kevin Spacey, Vince Vaughn, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Online budget
And it will have a budget to match those boldfaced names: Bud.TV will be the largest piece of an online budget that will command 10% of the brewer's $607 million media largesse, said Tony Ponturo, VP-global media and sports marketing. He said the bulk of the spending would come at the expense of prime-time and late-night TV.

"We're trying to be relevant to 21- to 27-year-olds growing up in this world where there are thousands of websites they can get entertainment," Mr. Ponturo said of A-B's move, which was first reported by Advertising Age.

That said, Mr. Ponturo stressed that the brewer had no intention of abandoning its traditional staples of TV advertising and sports marketing. In fact, both Mr. Ponturo and A-B's VP-creative development, Jim Schumacker, who will run Bud.TV and report to Mr. Ponturo, said in an interview that the network is a natural extension of the marketer's earlier activities.

Mr. Schumacker said characters from the network's webisodes and humorous shorts ultimately could star in their own A-B ads. Sports-related web channels on Bud.TV will offer an obvious vehicle for programming linked to the brewer's exhaustive sponsorships of auto racing, football and baseball, among other sports.

The lineup
The rest of the Bud.TV lineup includes the following web channels:

TV Shows: Short, sitcom-style programs. One concept in development, dubbed "Replaced by a Chimp," features chimps replacing human workers, and allows viewers to vote on whether the simians did the jobs better.

Bud Tube: A concept developed by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, this channel will feature A-B commercials shot by consumers.

Happy Hour: Developed by DDB, Chicago, and scripted in part by former "Saturday Night Live" writer Matt Piedmont, this station's content will be updated at 4:55 p.m. daily, and feature satirical newscasts, stand-up routines and "punking," Mr. Schumacker said.

Reality: Concepts in development include makeover- and dating-themed programs.

Comedy: Expected to include footage from actor Vince Vaughn's recent A-B sponsored comedy tour, as well as jokes from consumers that involve A-B brands.

Hollywood: Leverages partnerships with Messrs. Damon and Affleck's "Project Greenlight," billed as the world's largest online filmmaking contest, and Mr. Spacey's TriggerStreet.com, which supports aspiring filmmakers. It will also hype movies featuring A-B product placements.

There will be a fashion channel as well, and a talk-show channel featuring sportscaster Joe Buck is also a possibility.

Ad agency as producer
DDB, Chicago, A-B's agency of record, helped put the site together and will be one of its most frequent content producers, Mr. Schumacker said. But is the agency, in helping build something its client said will take money away from the traditional TV advertising it's counted on for so long, speeding its own demise?

"We're moving shoulder-to-shoulder with A-B," said Steve Jackson, DDB's global brand director on the account. "We've been a major proponent of this."
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